Auction of unclaimed safe-deposit boxes

From gemstones to gold teeth, Civil War memorabilia to sports trading cards, the state’s upcoming unclaimed property auction is sure to have something for everyone.  

“It’s always interesting to see what people consider valuable enough to store in a safe deposit box,” said Pat Tate, unclaimed property manager at the Department of State Lands (DSL).  “But sometimes it’s even more curious that they’d abandon their treasures,” he said. 

The public oral auction will be held Mar. 27 at Parrish Middle School in Salem, 802 Capitol St. NE, starting at 8:30 am.  The doors open at 8 a.m. 

An auction preview is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 26, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m at Parrish.  Unlike past years, previewing will not be allowed on the day of the auction. 

Every year, DSL receives hundreds of boxes, envelopes and packages containing the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes.  Financial institutions must turn over the contents to the state when owners have not kept up rental payments and when they are not able to be located. 

Unclaimed property staff looks for owners by posting their names on DSL’s searchable database on the Web, and by performing some specialized individual searches.  Any contents that haven’t been claimed within two years are sold at public auction.

All proceeds from safe-deposit box auctions are held in trust in the Common School Fund and made available for claim by rightful owners at any time in the future.  Interest earnings from the fund are sent twice a year to Oregon’s 197 public school districts.  The 2010 distributions will total $50.4 million. 

The March 27 auction will be conducted by Liska Auctioneers.  Additional information, including auction catalogs, is available on the DSL Web site – – or by calling DSL (503-986-5200) or Liska (1-800-866-8567).

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